Why Is It Called Football When You Use Your Hands?




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Have you ever wondered why American Football is called “football” when players primarily use their hands to manipulate the ball? This intriguing question has puzzled many, and in this article, we will explore the origins of the name and shed light on the fascinating history, rules, teams, players, tactics, and equipment associated with this popular sport. Whether you’re a rookie or a die-hard fan, join us on this exciting journey as we uncover the mysteries behind the NFL, touchdowns, quarterbacks, linebackers, the Super Bowl, playoffs, and the beloved pigskin. Get ready to dive into the world of American Football and discover why it has captured the hearts of millions around the world.

Why Is It Called Football When You Use Your Hands?

Origins of American Football

Evolution of Traditional Football

American football has its roots in various traditional ball games played in Europe, such as rugby and soccer. As these games evolved over centuries, they sparked the birth of a new sport that would become uniquely American. The game we know today as American football is a combination of these traditional sports and has its own distinct set of rules and strategies.

Influence from Rugby

One of the primary influences on American football was rugby, which was brought to the United States by British immigrants in the mid-19th century. Rugby was a physical game that involved both running and carrying the ball, and it laid the foundation for the contact aspects of American football. In fact, early versions of American football were quite similar to rugby, with players using both their hands and feet to advance the ball.

Early Days of American Football

In the late 19th century, American football began to diverge from its rugby roots and develop its own set of rules. The first American football game is often considered to be a match between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869. At this point, the game still closely resembled rugby, with teams trying to advance the ball by running or kicking it.

Rules and Gameplay

Use of Hands in American Football

While the game of soccer primarily emphasizes the use of feet, American football allows the use of hands to control and advance the ball. This key difference is one of the reasons why it is called “football” even though the players predominantly use their hands. In American football, players can catch, throw, and carry the ball with their hands, providing a unique and exciting dimension to the game.

Differentiating from Soccer

American football is often confused with soccer, another popular global sport. However, these two sports have distinct differences that set them apart. Soccer is played with a round ball, primarily using feet and head, with the aim of scoring goals. In contrast, American football uses an oval-shaped ball and emphasizes both running and passing to move the ball down the field and score touchdowns.

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The Role of Running and Passing

In American football, running and passing are integral elements of the game. Teams can choose to run the ball by handing it off to a running back or quarterback, who will try to break through the opposing team’s defense and gain yards. Passing, on the other hand, involves throwing the ball forward to a receiver who attempts to catch it. Both running and passing require skill, strategy, and coordination among the players.

Position-Specific Roles


The quarterback is often hailed as the leader and playmaker on the field. This position requires a player with excellent throwing accuracy, decision-making skills, and the ability to read the defense. The quarterback’s role is to receive the ball from the center, either handing it off to a running back, passing it to a receiver, or even running with the ball themselves. Their strategic decisions have a significant impact on the team’s offensive success.


Linebackers play a crucial role in both defense and strategy. They are positioned behind the defensive line and are responsible for stopping the running plays, covering receivers, and rushing the quarterback. Linebackers must possess a combination of strength, speed, and intelligence to effectively read and react to the opposing team’s offense. Their ability to make tackles and disrupt the opposing team’s strategy can greatly influence the outcome of the game.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers are the primary targets for the quarterback in passing plays. These players must possess speed, agility, and precise route-running abilities to get open and catch the ball. Their ability to make acrobatic catches and gain yards after the catch can have a significant impact on the team’s offensive success. Wide receivers often provide the excitement and big plays that keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Offensive and Defensive Line

The offensive and defensive lines are the backbone of any football team. The offensive line’s main role is to protect the quarterback and create running lanes for the running backs. Their ability to block and maintain a strong line of scrimmage is vital for the success of the offense. On the other side, the defensive line’s primary objective is to disrupt the opposing team’s offense by rushing the quarterback, stopping the run, and putting pressure on the opposing team’s offensive line.

History of the Name

Origins of the Term ‘Football’

The term ‘football’ has its origins in medieval Europe, where various forms of ball games were played on foot. These games involved kicking a ball, either by foot or with the use of hands, across a specified goal line. Although different regions and countries had their own variations of football, the common thread was the connection between the feet and the ball.

Use of Hands in Early Versions of the Sport

In the early days of football, including American football, the use of hands was not as strictly regulated as it is now. The game was still evolving, and players were allowed to both kick and carry the ball. As the sport grew in popularity and formalization, specific rules were introduced to differentiate it from other forms of football. This led to the establishment of clear guidelines on the use of hands in American football, despite the continued use of the term ‘football.’

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Why Is It Called Football When You Use Your Hands?

Equipment and Gear

Helmets and Protective Gear

Player safety is of utmost importance in American football, which is why helmets and protective gear are crucial components of the sport. Helmets provide vital protection for the head, reducing the risk of concussion and other serious head injuries. Additionally, players wear shoulder pads, knee pads, thigh pads, and other protective gear to minimize the impact of collisions and falls during gameplay.

Football Uniforms

Football uniforms not only serve as a means of identification for teams but also provide functional benefits. The uniforms are designed to be durable, comfortable, and lightweight, allowing players to move freely on the field. They often feature padding in critical areas to provide added protection. The design and colors of the uniforms also contribute to the team’s identity and create a sense of camaraderie among players.

The Football or ‘Pigskin’

The football used in American football is commonly referred to as a ‘pigskin’ due to its historical composition. Traditionally, footballs were made from pig bladders and covered with leather, giving them their distinctive appearance and nickname. Modern footballs are now made with synthetic materials, but they still retain their iconic shape and texture.

Famous American Football Teams

National Football League (NFL)

The National Football League (NFL) is the premier professional American football league. It consists of 32 teams divided into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL attracts millions of fans across the United States and around the world, showcasing the highest level of competition in the sport.

Super Bowl Champions

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the NFL, pitting the champions of the NFC and AFC against each other. It is one of the most-watched sporting events globally and is accompanied by exciting halftime performances and elaborate commercials. Super Bowl champions are celebrated not only for their impressive victories but also for their place in football history.

College Football Powerhouses

In addition to professional football, college football holds a special place in American sports culture. Numerous universities and colleges have storied football programs, with teams competing in various divisions and conferences. Powerhouse programs such as the University of Alabama, Ohio State University, and Clemson University consistently produce top teams and nurture future NFL stars.

Why Is It Called Football When You Use Your Hands?

Legendary Players

Tom Brady

Tom Brady is widely regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in American football history. With multiple Super Bowl victories and numerous individual records, Brady’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. Known for his leadership, intelligence, and clutch performances, Brady has left an indelible mark on the sport and continues to defy expectations even in his forties.

Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is considered by many to be the best wide receiver to ever play the game. His record-breaking career included numerous Pro Bowl selections, Super Bowl victories, and remarkable statistics. Rice’s exceptional work ethic, precise route-running, and reliable hands made him a nightmare for opposing defenses and a fan favorite.

Walter Payton

Nicknamed “Sweetness,” Walter Payton is widely regarded as one of the greatest running backs in football history. His combination of speed, power, and agility allowed him to break numerous records and leave a lasting legacy. Payton’s success on the field was matched by his humility and dedication to giving back to the community, making him an admired figure both on and off the field.

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Tactics and Strategies

Offensive Plays and Formations

Football offenses utilize a wide range of plays and formations to outsmart the defense and gain yards. Coaches and offensive coordinators meticulously design plays to exploit the weaknesses of the opposing defense. From running plays that aim to break through the line of scrimmage to complex passing plays that involve receivers running precise routes, offensive strategies in American football are diverse and constantly evolving.

Defensive Strategies

Defense is a critical aspect of American football, and teams employ various strategies to stop the opposing offense. Defensive coordinators develop game plans to counter the tactics employed by the offense and neutralize their key playmakers. Strategies range from blitzing the quarterback to applying tight coverage on receivers, all with the aim of disrupting the flow of the offense and forcing turnovers.

Special Teams

Special teams play a vital role in American football and are responsible for the kicking and returning aspects of the game. Special teams units include kickers, punters, and return specialists. Kickers and punters have the crucial task of accurately kicking the football to maximize field position, while return specialists aim to gain yards and potentially score on kick and punt returns.

The Importance of Touchdowns

Scoring in American Football

A touchdown is the most coveted scoring play in American football. It occurs when the offensive team successfully advances the ball into the opposing team’s endzone. Touchdowns are worth six points, and teams typically go for an extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights or attempt a two-point conversion by running or passing the ball into the endzone.

Variations of Touchdown Celebrations

Scoring a touchdown is a cause for celebration, and players often express their joy in creative and entertaining ways. While excessive celebrations can result in penalties, players have found clever ways to celebrate within the rules. Touchdown celebrations range from choreographed dances to spiking the ball in celebration, showcasing the players’ individuality and adding excitement to the game.

Significant Touchdown Moments

Throughout the history of American football, there have been numerous iconic touchdown moments that have defined games and left a lasting impact. Whether it’s an unbelievable catch, a game-winning run, or a touchdown that breaks a record, these moments become part of football lore and contribute to the rich history of the sport.

The Celebration of the Super Bowl

Annual Championship Game

The Super Bowl is the culmination of the NFL season and is widely regarded as one of the largest sporting events in the world. It brings together the best teams from the AFC and NFC to compete for the title of Super Bowl champions. The Super Bowl is more than just a game; it is a spectacle that captivates audiences with its halftime show, highly anticipated commercials, and the intense competition on the field.

Historic Super Bowl Moments

Over the years, the Super Bowl has produced numerous historic and memorable moments. From iconic touchdowns to game-changing plays, these moments have become etched in the collective memory of football fans. Super Bowl victories have catapulted players and teams into legendary status, cementing their place in football history.

Halftime Performances

The Super Bowl halftime show is a highly anticipated spectacle that brings together world-renowned musicians and performers. These performances have become iconic and showcase elaborate stage setups, unforgettable collaborations, and show-stopping dance routines. The halftime show adds an element of entertainment and excitement for both football fans and viewers who may not typically engage with the sport.

American football, with its rich history, thrilling tactics, and passionate fan base, continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Whether you are a seasoned football fan or just beginning to explore the sport, the unique rules, strategies, and memorable moments make it a sport like no other. So gather your friends, grab some snacks, and immerse yourself in the excitement of American football.

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